I have the world's greatest job for a late-in-life-career-change-psychiatric-nurse. That said, the past several (nine) months have been fraught with challenges: I was nudged into a "charge nurse" position when my hero charge nurse took time to help with the Ebola crisis in Liberia, worked with float nurses (they don't, nor should they, know "psych" well) and travel nurses (they don't, nor could they, know the policies and procedures in my hospital because they come from other states) in his absence, and took the charge position permanently when, shortly after his return, he was offered a position with a World Health Organization partner and left for the third world. I trust that he will make a monumental difference in the lives of those he serves there, because he made a monumental difference in mine.
I'm not a stranger to being in charge. Having been an executive in my past life I know a little bit about responsibility, accountability, workplace politics and smiling through corporate disasters. Even so, being in charge of protecting the very lives of people who are at horrifically vulnerable points of crisis in their lives is different than overseeing and guiding a group of talented and creative salespeople.
This whole "life and death" element is sobering, stressful, and sometimes downright terrifying. Apparently I was "ready" for the challenge as I haven't made any unforgivable mistakes, but I realize now that I've been operating on DEFCOM Level 5 (scale: 1-5) stress for months. I have learned, after many years of facing life's curve balls and countless drama queen boomerangs I've thrown at myself that I usually decompress (or decompensate) a couple of weeks after the adrenaline stops coursing through my veins.
I was just about to begin researching how to live on minimum wage or raise alpacas or start a vineyard when the Universe delivered me two signs that help was on the way. The first sign is the travel nurse with whom I began working about a month ago. The night I met her, I looked into her eyes and saw humor, humility, intelligence, and a particularly attractive form of openness. We have shared so much since then I'm amazed that she could have grown up the way she did and become the competent, funny, loving, adventurous, responsible, excellent nurse that she is, but I am extremely grateful that she has. She is a godsend and I believe that we will be lifetime friends. Her irreverence and honesty match my own. Working with her is a burst of joy. My professional life is, once again, deeply satisfying. Thank you, Alexis.
My personal life has improved exponentially through the second sign. Just over two weeks ago the men in my household finished construction on a first class chicken coop and I took the poultry plunge. My girls. I can sit for hours watching them chase each other, take dust baths, leap into the air for no apparent reason, scratch, peck and peep. I watch them make their way into their coop at night and marvel at their intelligence, despite the fact that my husband insists that "they have brains the size of pencil erasers". I don't care that they're dirty girls who poop indiscriminately and don't want me to pick them up to cuddle them. I don't care that they're still too young to give me eggs. They are like a soothing, utterly absorbing film and I can sit in a plastic chair just outside their run and feel more relaxed than I ever remember feeling because they are natural, funny, and fascinating. Every day I notice something new about them. Yesterday, I heard one of them utter a muffled cluck as opposed to a childlike peep. Today, after I cleaned their cage and sat while they ate mealworms out of my hand, they followed me to the gate that leads into the coop. Although I felt a swell of maternal instinct at the time and was sure that they are growing to love me, I suspect that them following me has more to do with the mealworms than emotion, but it was delightful just the same.
I have received my gifts from the Universe. The ultimate antiburnout recipe. Thank you, Universe.